This Could Be the End of Everything


Peter stopped outside the back yard, letting Loki stand after just waking up. He looked gone, a ghost of himself. His legs crippled under his own weight. Peter catches him and sits him up behind the tree. Peter crouches in front of him, lifting his face to see him focus if only slightly. He sighs.

“Come on Loki. You know Aunt May won’t leave us alone if I have to carry you inside. I am not particularly in good shape either.” He starts to get dressed, letting Loki come to on his own. Thor was on a neighboring house’s roof, waiting till Peter gave him the ok, eyes never leaving his brother. Once dressed, Peter looks to Loki, barely able to pull himself on his feet. He takes his hand and helps him up. Loki grunts from the jostle but was able to stand on his own. Peter isn’t sure what is going to transpire but he knows it isn’t good. Leading Loki by his arm, they enter the house, thirty six glowing ominously this late hour. Peter takes a breath and enter the house. A glass breaks and feet run to them in the hall from the kitchen. Aunt May was caught in a mix of disbelief, anger, worry and utter fear. Peter knew it was late. Latest he has been out in a long time. Two thirteen is shown on the grandfather clock in the hall. Aunt May looked ready to have a stroke at the lack of words and their physical state. For the first time in a long time, she cried. Peter and Loki stood there with her as she controlled herself.

"Why, what do you boys do? Why do you feel you must hurt yourselves like this? Is this my curse? Children I take care of go out doing God knows what and come home near death." They look at each other with their heads down. Peter sighs.

"I can't explain it Aunt May, I can't tell you." Aunt May puts her hands in the air in exasperation. Loki breaths, piecing together what she needs to hear in his dead mind.

“So I am to wait here, praying you boys don’t end up dead?” they wince at that statement.

"Aunt May, we do nothing bad but we can’t let you know because we love you." She looks at the two boys thinking. Her heart was in pieces. She resigns herself once more, knowing that she will never have a stable life with them now that Uncle Ben is gone. Now that she has chosen to live with the abnormal behavior for so long. She pinches the bridge of her nose. Her shoulders sagging in defeat.

"I need eggs from the store tomorrow." Peter knows this tactic. She has let it go again and only wants them coming home at the end of the day. He smiles at his Aunt.

"Ok, we will go and get it after school tomorrow." Peter and Loki head upstairs to get undressed and to take a shower. The night was lifeless, a mirror of the state of their bodies. Loki sat on his bed, flipping the lamp on. He heard a thump from Peter’s room, then heavy footsteps that he placed easily. Thor opens his door slowly, closing it with a click. Loki finger combs his hair, collapsing on the bed once all the knots were out. Thor sits on his side of the bed, the mattress caving from the massive weight. Thor had breathed out in relief. Now he sits by his brother in thought of what to say. He had used magic. Thor smiles bitterly.

"You might remember soon brother. I am sorry for the strife it will bring you." He reaches for Loki's hand, faltering mid reach. "I am sorry that I am so selfish." He can't live without him and he knows it. Thor rubs his eyes, defeat rushing over him once more. Loki had watched him in silence, barely able to muster the strength to speak anyways. Seeing him in such a pitiful state once more, Loki groans in annoyance.

“Thor you have brought hardships on me that I have been fleeing from the entire time. This is karma at its finest. Even if I no longer have memory of what I did, I still did it. I still affected this reality and all who inhabit it.” Loki sits up, despite the growing want to just sleep. He had to get up early tomorrow to his displeasure.

“I had taken your most cherished possessions from your room after the fight for Jane and Midgard. I simply wished for something of you but I couldn’t stop grabbing, remembering all we had been through.” Loki notices the bag that was slung halfheartedly over his shoulder. It was small, not meant to carry much. Thor goes to grab something from the silk fabric. “This was your first spell book. When you left, I remembered it being in the trunk I had for your stuff. I wanted to give it to you in case you did remember magic but then the incident with Ravencroft happened.” He remembers when they were children he would always run to him, excited, that he had mastered a new spell. Thor smiles as he looks at the words on the cover he could not understand. They still brought back so many memories that Thor felt his heart swell. Loki moves closer, taking the book Thor was now handing to him.

"I died Thor, or at least, I was near death. I came back to life and a power just- just…" Thor runs his fingers through his hair. Loki then remembers the blue that engulfed his body. "I turned blue and I used ice before all that. I truly am Jotun. I am your brother. I am cursed to be nothing more than the monster every one of my past self sees me as." Loki keeps his head down with his eyebrows knitted in thought. He fingers the gold inlaid book, opening it to the first page to busy his mind from the onslaught of words it threw at him. Thor tenses at his brother’s pained voice.

"No Loki, you are so much more than that. You are my brother who I love no matter what. You are a strong fighter and a sorcerer. Above all, you are not a monster." He shrugs closing the book with excessive force.

"I am seen as a monster." He growls. "How can you love a monster? How can you care about me when I am not really your brother?"

"Because, I just do. Why must I have reasons to love you? It is because you are who you are." Thor then looks to have an idea, adjusting himself to sit fully on the bed facing Loki.

“What are you planning Thor?”

"Just trust me." Loki gives him a look but scoots closer anyway, their knees almost touching. Thor points to the book expectantly. "It was your first spell book so they are all, in a way, simple. You used magic earlier Loki. Use it again." Loki shakes his head.

"I have no idea how I did that." Thor still smiles.

"I believe in you Loki." His belief in him was almost suffocating but not in a bad way. Loki feels comfort in it but hides it behind annoyance. He looks at the texts again flipping through pages. He then sees a drawing of the galaxy and wonders what this one would be. He looks at the short spell and decides to try it, if only to prove Thor wrong if it failed.

"Stjarnan, saklauss ljos

Fjor innan padan Stjarnan

I fregna ykkarr til koma

Syna allr ykkarr laun" His eyes flash a bright green and a great light shines from the book. The two are engulfed in their own small galaxy. Stars float around them and worlds Loki and Thor have never seen zoom passed them. Loki is awe struck, eyes drinking in the beauty. A shooting star almost hits Thor and he dodges by moving his head slightly. Instead, he hits a world that was right next to him and it explodes into a cascade of mini stars.

"Does this look like something a monster could create?" Thor asks him in just as much awe. The stars and planets eventual settle around them in a lazy float so Thor could finally examine the planets properly. "This is Alfheim, home of the light elves." Thor points at a planet with many rings around it. He then looks around and leans his head close to Loki’s to point towards a planet closer to the window. "Muspelheim, it is home to the fire demons." Loki looks to where Thor pointed to a red glowing sphere. He was not perturbed by the proximity, his curiosity distracting him. Thor continues to point to the realms he knows and Loki sits by him listening intently. Another shooting star passes and Thor catches it this time.

"Midgardians say you can wish upon them." Thor opens his thick hand to let Loki see the ball of light. It sputters and sparkles in the god’s gentle grasp. The light brightens up Loki's face and he takes it gingerly in his hand. It explodes into a shower of stars and the spell comes to an end.

"That was beautiful." He complements the spell.

"You make many beautiful things. Magic is a wonderful gift for you."

"It isn't approved of is it?" Loki asks. He has a feeling it wasn't since he was already so different.

"I do not care what others say or think. It is your gift and one that I love that you have. It is beautiful, just like you." Loki turns away. Thor won't stop complementing him and it is driving him crazy and turning him red. He grasps his head and moans. Thor jumps to him, cradling his head in his hands to examine him. Loki swats the doting hands and lays back on the pillows.

“I just need to sleep idiot. I am exhausted and I have school tomorrow.” Thor stands with an apology in his eyes.

“Then rest well brother. I will watch over you from afar.” Loki rolls his eyes even though they were now closed. Thor walks as quietly as he could, failing miserably with his heavy build, and sneaks out Loki’s window to fly over to the next building. He has a clear view of Loki’s sleeping face from here, aglow by the minimal light. Thor leans against a chimney, getting comfortable for his watch. He felt a tightening in his stomach, one he trusted on the battle field. Danger was afoot. He just didn’t know when or how. The moon slowly rose to the center of the sky as Thor watched, thoughts fluttering in his head of Loki’s childhood. He couldn’t help remembering the many beasts that would follow him. A snake that grew too large for Asgard to hold was his favorite. Loki had cried the day his friend left. Thor wasn’t sure how to console him, telling him instead of how this would be better for him. That Jormungandr would live a life of adventure befitting of his size. He had perked up at that, and the two spent hours imagining the adventures that the serpent would pursue. Thor chuckled deep in his chest, a tired but content sound that lit up the sky with the now falling moon. He turns his head when a sound of rockets hits his ears. Iron Man was closing in. Tony lands rather loudly on the roof, Thor standing to meet him, cape flowing gently in the wind.

"So, did Loki fall asleep safe and sound?" Tony teased. Thor ignores his jab glancing back at the sleeping form. His eyes moved to a dream that was in his head. Thor couldn’t help the grin when he saw Loki slowly smile in his sleep.

"Where is friend Rogers?" Thor asks, taking his eyes from his beloved brother.

"He is at S.H.I.E.L.D.’s new headquarters. He is checking in on the baby team and tasking them to help him find what else fell from the sky with your brother." Thor nods in understanding.

"But the trail had disappeared." Thor states. “Even Heimdall could not see with his sight.” Tony nods, rolling his eyes slightly at the amazing sight the being has.

"Yes big guy, but we think we can either find it again or that someone might have seen something besides Peter’s adopted brother you are obsessing over." Thor jerks at the comment. “Are you going to stay here all night?” Thor nods.

“I do not like the feeling I am getting. Something is about to happen, something terrible.” Tony groans.

“Can we ever just have a happy reunion?” Thor ignores the complaining man. Tony just shrugs it off. “Well, I will leave you to it. Take this though. We will call you if we find anything.” Tony gives Thor a basic flip phone. “I you can break the indestructible phone, you truly will be on god level.” Tony chides him before heading back to the tower. Thor looks at the tiny thing doubtingly. With a shrug he sticks it into his pants pocket and continues watching as his brother sleeps till the sun rises and his alarm goes off.

Another school day and the boys only gritted their teeth in tolerance. First period, Gwen examined them thoroughly. Her eyes saw the fight on Peter’s body, despite his well thought out efforts to hide most of the burns and scratches. She was confused on Loki. He had no injuries to see but his eyes were even more tired than Peter’s. She walks in between the two after class, her skirt swaying with each step.

“We are fine Gwen, just exhausted.” Peter wraps his arms around her in a hug then kisses her huge smile that was already bringing life back into him. Loki scrunches his nose and walks past. Right before the next class began, Gwen whispered a question in his ear.

“What is your code name now hero?” He rubs his head, the title not befitting of his actual feelings at the moment. The only reason he is doing this is his love for Peter and Aunt May. He could care less about the people he helped. All he wanted was to keep Peter alive even though he wondered if part of this was an attempt to die on his part. The two make a twin groan from the place they have laid their heads for the majority of the class when the bell rang.

“Four more classes to go. Wanna nap during lunch?” Peter mumbles as he pulls his bag over his shoulder. Loki only nods, glaring at anyone who bumps him or tries to talk to them about the upcoming Winter Ball. In calculus, Loki wondered if the black magic nickname was finally at work since the numbers were moving and changing. He looked to Peter and sees him cover his face with the same problem. A part of him wants to laugh at their pathetic state but he only musters an upturn of his lips and a breathy chuckle. He hears Peter do the same and soon their bodies are rocked in silent laughter that was stopped only by the bell. They trudge on, the laughter giving them enough energy to make it to lunch and eat. They did nap after their bellies were full. They bathed in the sun on the front lawn, Peter sprawled like a starfish and Loki curled up like a cat. Loki felt the tingle of eyes on him but before he closed his eyes, he saw blonde hair shine in the distance, a cold wind blowing over the two. The bell for the next class barely woke the two up. They mumble incoherently to one another, grabbing their stuff. They knew they were going to be late. It was the voices in their head telling them to just skip it all was what they fought for the rest of the day. They broke down under the voice once Gym came around. Peter did not want to stomach dodgeball today. Loki was appalled at the object of the game and was the one leading the retreating party to the back of the school to sit under the trees.

“I wonder if I will get my bike back.” Loki fills the sleepy area with his question. Peter shrugs as he rips up pieces of grass from where he lay.

“Could go check up on that with Tony. They did clean up the scene so he most likely took it.” Loki was hopeful. He loved his bike, tempted to name it something. It saved his life and Peter’s too. Loki nibbles his lip. In turn, the Avengers saved his life for giving him the bike. Loki sighs at the realization. “Last night was crazy. You got magic powers and you turn blue.” Loki wasn’t sure how to respond to that. Peter felt the tension immediately. “I’m not normal either so I am not insulting you. I actually think it is the coolest thing.” His smile was as goofy as ever. Loki shakes his head but is comforted by his words. He then remembered the eyes. He felt a panic attack creep up on him every time he thought of them. He knew them. From where he wasn’t sure. The final bell rang out across the school like a call to freedom. The boys got up and walked to the school bus on the opposite side of the school. They almost missed it. Before they could get on, Gwen rushed them in a frenzy. Her eyes were on Peter. She rubbed her nose and something about that motion spoke flirting to Loki. His feet carried him swiftly away from the lovebirds and onto the bus. They talked in the usual manner of stutters and strange noises coupled with equally strange faces. It was quite comical. The bus driver honked his horn and the two jumped on, posture screaming embarrassment. Loki scooted over in the back to make room. Peter turns to him. “Do you want to help babysit a Chihuahua?” Loki had no idea what such a creature was.

“What in all of creation is a Chihuahua?” Peter held his hands up and makes a small box.

“It is a loud rat dog that I personally think are useless and annoying.” Gwen elbows him. “But are the most adorable things on this earth.” Loki raises his brow at such a whipped reaction.

“I think I would rather not. You two have fun on that date then.” Loki digs his headphones out, the noise getting to him already and proceeds to watch the city pass by him as they go home. He was not oblivious to the behemoth on rooftops following his bus either. Gwen and Peter get off at her stop, leaving Loki to watch them go. He wondered what it was like to be infatuated but figured if it would make him into an idiot like Peter he would rather do without. Besides, he already had someone obsessing over him. The next few stops Loki decided to just walk for a bit. The bus had stopped in an apartment complex near Central Park. Loki walked over to the beautiful expanse of nature. For the better part of an hour he walked the perimeter. His music of choice filled his ears as people mingled with one another, Loki’s eyes examining them with passing interest. They all seemed boring, predictable. No one seemed to really interest him besides the few he holds close presently. Loki shrugged, unconcerned with his lack of interest in humanity itself. He felt a breeze and heard large footfalls come up behind him. He just took out a piece of gum, not needing to look at the source to know who it is. “Thought you were the type to wait for an invitation.”

“I figured you wouldn’t mind if I at least walked with you.” Loki turned, seeing he had changed from last night. At least he wouldn’t stick out as much. He still wasn’t looking forward to the people who would notice them. Loki shrugs, blowing a bubble with his gum.

“Did you feel anything strange last night? At the asylum.” Thor and Loki started walking, thinking over the question.

“You mean the force field that appeared when I tried to save you?” Loki nods, deciding the blue eyes and slime like magic were connected. “Something sinister dwells within those walls. I do not know what though. We are looking into other things at the moment.” Loki nods.

“You mean me and what else I could have brought.” Thor nods, looking down at his younger brother.

“Your body being back in its youth brings back many memories. I wonder why you have taken this form.” Loki shrugs, looking at the almost bare trees.

“Probably something to do with the fact I was ‘reborn’ in a way. That I have been made pure with lack of memory and trials now.” Thor’s smile was filled with pride.

“You always know so much Loki. I am always amazed at your ability to see so much with little information.” Thor was trying hard. Loki felt it in every complement of everything he did. The smiles, the touches, everything. Thor wanted to make things right. He was smothering him.

“You don’t have to try so hard all the time.” They stop and look an ice cream vendor. Loki counted what change he had in his head and decided on a small vanilla and chocolate cone. Thor followed with the intent of getting a cookie dough waffle cone.

“I only wish to do things right this time around.” Loki grabs his cone and waits on Thor’s.

“I understand but you need to realize something. I left you for another reason other than lack of love on your part. I left because I hated myself.” The story of the vampire came to his mind. He guessed, in a way, he wanted to make the world safe for monsters to come out even though he now knows no one who mattered saw him as such. Peter doesn’t and neither does Thor. Thor grabs his cone and leads Loki to a lone bench.

“I never understood that part. I still can’t. I see nothing wrong with you.” Loki licks his cone after taking a bite out of the top. Thor was demolishing his in huge bites.

“It is understandable to me and that’s all that matters when you get down to it. Now I see no reason to really go over it. I have no memory. The only thing I can recall for sure is when I first found out I was Jotun.” Thor looked grim.

“Odin fell into Odin Sleep. I remember it well because you had told me it was my fault.” Loki flinches a little at the revelation. “None of that matters now. We are now living a second chance. No need to bring up the past anymore.” Thor was working on the cone now while Loki was still dealing with the mound of swirl ice cream on top of his. A phone rings and Loki almost checks his. Thor pulls out a flip phone, answering louder than necessary.

“Thor, you don’t need to yell, I can hear you fine.” Thor apologizes to Tony on the other end while Loki people watches. “We found something finally. Come over to the new building so we can get this over with.”

“Very well Sir Stark, I will be over to the new headquarters.” Loki nibbles on the edge of the cone, waiting. “I must leave now Loki. I am sorry to depart so soon.” Thor takes the rest of his cone in one bite. He grabs his head with a moan.

“I believe that is called brain freeze. Peter says to put your thumb at the roof of your mouth to ease the pain.” Thor does just that and sighs once the pain subsides.

“Thank you Loki, I will be back soon.” Loki waves him goodbye, not too torn up by the absence. He takes his time with the rest of his cone, feeling what little heat the sun gave for the day leave as it goes down from its place in the sky. Loki licks his lips and starts his walk to the metro to get back home. Before he went into the station, Loki dialed Peter’s number. It rang a few times till it went to voicemail. He tried once more with only one ring. He didn’t like the feeling that gave him. Instead, Loki dialed Gwen. She picked up after the third ring.

“Hello Loki, did Peter get home safe?”

“I thought he was still with you.” Gwen makes a confused noise on the other end.

“He said he was going to call you to see if you were up to some patrolling tonight.” Loki was filled with dread. “He left an hour ago.” That sealed in the worry.

“I’ll call you later Gwen.” He hangs up before she could protest. He was getting ready to call Aunt May, to see if he was home when Peter called. He swipes the screen answering quickly. “Where are you?” It wasn’t Peter on the other end.

“Where are you?” it asked in an old and cracked voice. A laugh breaks over the line and Loki holds the phone out.

“Who am I speaking to?” Loki tries to keep calm in order to stay in control of the conversation.

“Have you become so lost you don’t know your own voice?” the phone hangs up abruptly. He didn’t know what to do. Loki looks all around him, lost in so many ways. His eyes land on a vendor who was selling handmade clothing. He was standing in the vicinity of the full body mirror. His eyes were confused until realization dawned on him. They were a pale blue, with a certain edge to them that Loki placed immediately. Loki wished he had his bike. He hoped the metro could get him to the bridge that led to Ravencroft.

"What did you find?" Thor glides through the main entrance to be met by the new Avengers team. Steve and Tony stood among them with a file in hand. The two looked to be wondering how to communicate what they found when Thor finally told them to spit it out.

"We managed to find someone that matched Loki’s description that mysteriously appeared the night your brother fell." Steve says but then starts wondering what to say next. Tony looks Thor in the eye a look of pity reflecting in them.

"We were led to an insane asylum." He sighs. "Ravencroft institute to be exact."

“Are you sure?” Thor asks. The group looks at him, no room to doubt what they found. Steve fishes through the packet and pulls out a photograph. Thor takes it and goes pale. The man in the picture was a crude copy of his brother. The body was crooked and made of tortured muscle. The scene was of police surrounding the man. Thor wondered how they didn’t hear of this.

“They didn’t want the public to know of another person being put in Ravencroft. The city was terrorized one too many times for their taste and didn’t want to add to the fear. They swept it under the rug.” Thor hands him the photo back and turned to go. Steve and Tony follow him, the second group on standby till they knew what was going on. Steve reads the file out loud as Tony drives the car the two hours back into the city.

"It says he was found wandering the streets and police tried to see what was wrong after being called to the scene by a concerned citizen. He went into a violent rage and when he was finally subdued, he started laughing hysterically, screaming in another language." Tony shivers a bit.

"Sounds crazy and weird. Why do we always go looking for crazy and weird?" Steve ignores the complaint, though he wondered about that himself sometimes. "They apparently put him in solitary saying he is a danger to others and himself. The most recent mishap was yesterday when they found him with slit wrists and painting the walls with a war scene." Tony whines, Thor being abnormally quiet.

"Do we really have to, I mean, I think Point Break can handle this himself?" Steve closes the file, telling Tony to drive. He groans at the man in protest. The hours past slowly for one god and too fast for the humans. When they get to what was left of the institute, the heroes were frozen at what they see before them.

Loki walked up the steps, avoiding the caution tape. The inmates that lived in the front half of the building were moved today so it was deserted here. He walked into the building, listening for anyone to be walking in the corridors with him but he heard nothing except the air conditioner. Loki made his way to the center easily. The day was surprisingly clear after the destruction of last night. He isn’t quite sure if he should be creeped out or not seeing birds fly so easily over the very place he had mounted a bloody bike to escape a mad mob of inmates. He continues across the lawn, seeing a guard leave the entrance to the second half of the building. He freezes but he just walks right past him. Loki saw it, the murky color clouding his eyes. No one was going to stop him. The being who has Peter won’t let that happen. When he enters the lobby to the solitary wing, something goes right through him, like ice water being thrown over him and him instantly drying, unaffected in moments. He began walking once more, keeping flush with the wall, always listening and looking before he continues his way all the way to the back. He heard footsteps creep up from the second hallway, Loki looked around the trashed area, destruction from last night still barely touching this place regardless. He saw a shard of metal under some papers and grabs it. Holding it close like his knives, he prepares to take out the person. His heart thuds in his ears when he hears a growl. Loki steps out and spins, his makeshift knife raised to stab the creature in the neck. Upon its landing deep within the neck Loki is struck with horror. Peter stands, eyes open in shock. Loki grabs him and falls to the ground with him. Where did the growl come from? Why was Peter wandering the halls like this? Blood seeped out of the jagged wound around the piece of metal. Loki watched as Peter looks at him, hate in his eyes for what he had done. He killed his best friend. His brother.

“Mon-ster” Peter chokes out with his last breath. Loki screams out his anguish, barely able to hold him, becoming sick at his own hands tainting his dead friend. This can’t be real.

“What have I done?” Loki feels bile rise in his throat till it forces its way out. His body shakes painfully as he searches his mind to his soul. He needed something, anything to fix this. Gold fills his vision and fades just as fast. He looks back to Peter, staring at the lifeless body, till he sees something out of place. A dark film lays over his body, a hum fainter then the beat of a heart comes to him. This wasn’t real. An illusion. It had to be. Loki focuses on the energy and disbands it. As the film stretches to nonexistence, the scene before him does the same. Loki sits against the wall. This was a mind game. Loki just beat the pawns. He smirks to himself. “I get it now. We are the kings. You stand with many pawns while I wander defenseless.” If the king falls, the game ends. He pick himself up and continues his way toward the room Loki last saw those blue eyes. Loki finds himself unchallenged the rest of the way and wondered through scenarios that could happen now that he was faced with the door. He breathes deep. Nothing left to do then just open it. He takes the latch and pulls it down, metal bars unlatching itself from the wall. He pulls the door open, feeling a cold that penetrated him deeper than any natural occurrence could. He shivered involuntarily. The door fully open, Loki is met with the never ending expanse of darkness once again. He sticks a hand out, losing sight of it as it crosses the threshold. Loki reclaims his hand, seeing it was untouched. Gulping, He put both hands out, feeling before him. Then his legs to bring his full body in. this was too easy came to mind. Once fully through he looked around to see nothing, feel nothing. He walked, trying to ignore the dread he felt. His body knew this feeling, the total lack of everything. A shape takes form in front of Loki. He squints to see an alter. He walks to it, seeing a chess board laying there, no pawns on the black side and a lone king for the white side. He looks around, nothing else appearing then looks at the board again. A knight and a castle appears with a queen sliding into place. Three new pieces were at his disposal with no idea why. A squeak echoes in the dark. Loki looks forward to find a wheel chair holding a man. Loki takes a step back but feels a chair hit the back of his knees, causing him to sit. The man looks at him, a carnival mirror gone wrong. His body was old and decrepit. A shadow of old strength now gone in his bare arms. The black hair was matted and longer than Loki’s. It was the eyes that scared him though. The menacing stare filled with nothing but an unstable rage masked with the stretched smile on his face. It was not happy. It was rabid. The man takes a knight and moves it to a new space, gesturing wide for Loki to make his move. Loki glares, not wanting to play this game, only wanting Peter. The copy leans to the side casually and snaps his fingers. Darkness moved away in the appearance of serpents to reveal a knocked out Peter. Loki looked at him, assessing any new damage to find none. He showed no reaction, only to grab one of his new pieces. The knight was moved toward the other. Two more moves and Loki will take it. The being before him chuckles low until it blows into hysterical laughter.

“The king doesn’t have to fall in battle. He simply needs to fall in grace.” A sneer more fitting for his face appears. Loki knew he had to keep his pieces. Tragedy was going to happen if he failed today.

Pillars of ice stood tall like a man in front of the car. They were about to have pulled in front of the institute but the ice were resurrected from the ground, keeping them from continuing. Tony takes out his phone as Steve exits the vehicle. Thor follows as Tony hangs up and joins the blondes in front of the pillars. They reflected the men well, mirrors in their clarity. Tony pokes his center one. The pillars begin to crack and pieces fall to form a shape.

“Is that a knight?” Steve asks. Tony’s took the form of a castle and Thor’s a queen.

“Why are we reflected in ice chess pieces?” Tony wonders out loud. Thor inspects his further. The reflection inspects him in return till it leans back on its own. Thor jumps back Mjolnir being called by his outstretched hand. He wished he had not changed out of his armor now. Steve takes out a pistol from his leg strap and aims it at his reflection that was currently sneering. Tony checked his watch, counting down the minutes till his suit arrived. It wasn’t fast enough now that the pillars shatter, leaving the reflections to stand in front of the men.

“What is going on?” Thor growls, grasping Mjolnir. His reflection holds out his hand for a copy of his hammer to appear. Thor growls at the fake. Before he can smash the being, it is pulled back into the building along with the others. A green mud shines up from the ground and makes huge squares on the ground filling in every other. Steve grits his teeth.

“Who is moving the chess pieces?” Thor could only see one possibility but was hoping against all odds he was wrong. Tony yelps as he was levitated onto the board. He was then taken by a force unseen by anyone to go forward four squares until he was lost in the depths of Ravencroft. He heard the jets of his suit through the walls. Once he stops he was in the same square outline as his reflection. It looked indifferent to his arrival. The suit breaks through the wall and Tony is enveloped in its metal. He wastes no time in blasting the figure, who breaks into pieces of ice. The square was enveloped in a dance of dark tendrils all around him, creating a barrier.

“We play the game till it’s over.” Tony concedes. He hopes whoever is controlling their moves was on their side. Thor and Steve wait a few minutes after Tony left, anticipating when they would move next. Thor senses movement just inside the wreckage of the building. Moments later, Steve was moved in an L shape just outside the building in the opposite direction. They waited and moved again and again. Thor barely moving more than two spaces from his original spot. Steve took out the being that was behind the wall. Steve had yelled that it looked like a nurse made of marble with black tar coming from her eyes. Thor grew anxious when he was far from his team mates. Their moves taking him farther than yelling distance. He wondered how they were fairing in the game of wit. All he could do was pace his square till he would move to the next, most likely in a defensive tactic, given he has yet to see a piece. Tony had taken the Steve imitation a few moves in. The Captain America impersonator had gained a pistol made of ice and tried shooting at Tony. He missed as Tony blasted him like the last. Thor lifted himself with his hammer to see over the buildings. As he looked over the board from his place in the sky he witnessed the dance Steve and Tony were presently doing with the queen piece. His reflection. It was slowly being cornered from its lack of movement between the two. Eventually Tony was placed to grab the piece in two different ways. Steve was then cleverly placed to take him when Thor’s reflection attempted escape. Steve moves in his L path and shoots the reflection in the forehead. Thor’s fake falls to the ground and bursts into pieces. The board ripples as if someone had slammed the board in anger. Thor smirks at Loki’s progress of winning. No one was lost in battle yet. There was hope. Thor began to move forward then to the side chasing the castle piece that had just passed the wall of the institute. He came to a standstill though when the copies of Steve, Tony with the last nurse stood in a triangle around him. If he took the last space he would be taken by the knight. He felt the movement of Steve and Tony on their way to his space. He noticed the group disbanding as the real Steve and Tony arrive. The pieces dance among one another till they finally come to another standstill. The three Avengers take a breath. Upon release, they move. Tony destroys Steve’s last copy. To the group’s horror, they realized what happens next. The last reflection of Tony comes forward and hits him with the blast from his palm directly to the chest.

“System failure. Please disengage.” A mechanical voice speaks in Tony’s ear. Another blast hits him and Tony feels the armor tear away. He tries to raise his hand to hit the fake back but he was kept restrained by an invisible force that has been moving them this entire time. His suit is slowly destroyed as Steve and Thor try to get out of their squares with no effect. Tony feels a searing pain for an instant before it is numbed. He wasn’t going to look. He knew it was bad. He felt himself lose consciousness before the last blast hit his helmet. Steve’s scream of his name was the last thing he heard as he takes his path to utterly destroy the being in front of him, despite the attack not being over. He emptied the pistol in the thing’s face till it shattered away. Dropping his weapon he rips what was left of the suit off of Stark and checks for a pulse. His face was burned and a gaping wound was in his side from the blasts.

Loki hid his feelings behind a mask of indifference. He hopes Tony can hold out till this game was over.

“How do I know you will keep your word of giving Peter back?” The being looked bored. Loki could see behind that lie. He was filled with joy to finally take out one of his pieces. It was late once again. He knew Aunt May was waiting and he cared more for her before Tony or Steve. He kept Thor out of battle best he could. His reflection retreats his bishop on the other side of the board. Loki wants to scream. He would be stuck here for another hour trying to catch the thing. Loki was then struck with an idea. He had one more piece. It was not in play but it was a piece none the less. His piece. Loki looks at the king piece then at the place of the bishop. He thought through his movements of Thor. If he could make him move a certain way and get himself on the board, he could take the bishop. He couldn’t, however, leave Peter’s wellbeing to the mercy of this creature that claims to be him. Loki thought of plans, none of them working. His concentration was failing him at the glare from across the board. He wasn’t done even if he wins this game. That’s all it is, Loki realized. He was playing with his prey. Loki gulped in air. He had one crazy plan left, the possibility of it working being minimal. Loki moves Thor behind the bishop. The other, in turn, moves it on the other side of the board again. He moves Steve to intercept it. Once again he moves, Loki repeating the process. After one more block, the bishop was right where he needed it to be. He took a breath. His twisted copy leans forward at the behavior. Loki jumps over the table and pushes the wheelchair over. A screech sounds in the darkness. He sprints to Peter, tendrils of darkness violating him as he grabs the boy and pulls him out with every ounce of strength he had. He grabs the boy just as his shoulder was grabbed by bony hands. It bruised and Loki could only elbow him in the side. He lets loose enough on his hold for him to dive out and grab the king piece. He places it where the bishop was, knocking it over. He felt corrupted magic envelop him to bring him out of the building facing the nurse. He looks at her with a smirk, setting Peter down as his eyes flutter open. Loki places a hand on her torso and gives a simple shove. the nurse simply falls with an explosion of shards when she hits the ground. The squares fade away, leaving the ground clear of any deformities. Loki runs over to Steve, who was holding Tony close. He was on death’s door from blood loss. Thor helped Peter over as Loki closes his eyes to search his soul once more for the knowledge of magic he so desperately needs. Delving past the walls of his mind till a blinding, golden light forms around him. The woman’s hands come out with a warning.

“He is too far gone for just a healing spell. Can you take the pain?” He takes those hands in answer. They wrapped around him gently, whispering the spell in his ear. It forms on his tongue as he lets her go to come back to a conscious state. His eyes were aglow with greens and golds as the spell was sealed.

“Ykkarr ben geta forsja

Gera minn fen

Tilkall minn fjor

Gefa minn kraptr.” Tony’s wounds slowly healed in a golden glow. The magic weaved itself into new skin till he was new once more. When the spell was cast, Loki screamed in agony. Thor was quick to his side, he saw the burn and felt the blood from his side.

“He took his wounds.” Steve gasps. Thor gathers him quickly.

“We must get him to Lady Helen Cho.” Tony groans to life, hearing the need to get to Cho.

“She is at the S.H.I.E.L.D base.” Thor swings his hammer to fly with Loki in his arms. He holds him close to his chest, shielding him from the force of the wind and to feel the pulse that was steadily growing weaker. He makes it to the base and blasts through the doors yelling in desperation for Cho. The agents scatter at the request and get her to the storm that was brewing in the entrance room. Loki was barely breathing when Cho takes him. Thor could barely feel a pulse as Loki was put in the machine. He watched his chest as the machine repairs the damage. The nurses ask Thor for his arm and allow them to ready him for a blood transfusion. They did not know his blood type. Thor was beyond comprehending what they needed and they simply hoped they would match not completely knowing Loki was not blood related. Time passed slowly as Loki was fixed under the technology, his breathing becoming less labored as the wounds were fixed and Thor becoming dizzy as he gained color back. The nurses tried to take the needle out to stop the transfusion but he pushes them away. Not letting them separate the one way Thor could help save his brother. Once the two wounds were healed they told Thor he was safe, that he did not need any more blood and only needed rest. Steve came in to help Thor up. The god follows the stretcher they took Loki on and sat by his side in a spare room. Loki slept soundly as Peter comes in, stuffing the phone in his pocket.

“We have the night now that Gwen is covering for us.” Peter sits opposite Thor, the two watching their brother sleep.

“Did you see what took you?” Peter shakes his head.

“Do you know?” Thor takes too long to answer. “What was it?” Thor sighs.

“Loki had split when he fell. He became two separate entities while the base of his existence stayed the same. You were taken by his other half.” Peter shivers despite himself.

“What does that mean for us? If it is Loki’s other half, we can’t get rid of it.” Thor nods not sure what to do. Problem solving was Loki’s strength. For now he decides they should all rest. It was late once again. The small group takes refuge in numbers at S.H.I.E.L.D’s base as they wait till the next day. Their next challenge. Their next war.

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